The best laptop for graphic design may be open for discussion, but there are a handful of laptops that remain a standard for graphic designers. Overall, Apple’s MacBooks remain a staple laptop for artists and creators, though a number of other users have also found success with laptop manufacturers like HP and Lenovo.
One obvious top choice for laptops for graphic design is the Apple MacBook Pro with the Apple M1 Chip due to its powerful Retina display, long battery life and overhauled hardware offering users quick speeds.
Most graphic designers in this day and age use programs like Photoshop, InDesign, ProCreate or other digital drawing and illustration software for their day-to-day work. As such, ensure you get a laptop that’s able to stand the test of the programs you need, which you can do by cross-checking the individual program’s system requirements with those of the laptops you’re thinking about buying. Many of the best laptop computers have no problem running programs for graphic design, though it’s always safest to double-check before you buy anything.
Designers who often use drawing tablets or other pieces of external hardware should make sure their laptops have the correct ports for connecting to said hardware. Most of these pieces of hardware use USB cables to connect to computers, though there are also adapters that can help you convert cables to the correct format for use if need be.
Another important factor to consider when looking at laptops for graphic design is whether or not you plan to use the laptop for other things. While getting a gaming laptop is a safe bet for ensuring your laptop is powerful enough to run the programs you need and it gives you the ability to use it for entertainment, others who only plan to use their computers for work may prefer something that simply gets the job done.
One of the most important features to consider when looking at a laptop for graphic design is display since it needs to have accurate color portrayals and a high enough resolution to let you work with super high-quality images.
The speed and performance of a given laptop have a lot to do with how a laptop runs certain programs and are largely determined by a combined effort from your computer’s processor, RAM and, if it has one, a graphics card or chip. While running software on its minimum requirements often works, it doesn’t always result in the best performance or design experience, so it may be worthwhile to shoot higher than the absolute minimum.
Many designers prefer to get a laptop with a lot of storage since they’re working with lots of files. However, many laptops also allow users to use external hard drives or to upgrade their storage, both of which graphic designers are familiar with due to the storage demands of the career. Either way, it’s worth considering how much onboard storage you want your laptop to have right out of the box, or if it’s able to be added to later on.
While it isn’t important for everyone, some designers who work on the go may also value laptops with several hours of battery life. If you don’t have access to an electrical outlet but still want to be able to put in hours of work at a time, prioritizing battery life in your search is key.
Most laptops that are suitable for graphic design range from $700-$1,600. Still, cheaper laptops can also be used for graphic designers on a budget, and many designers are using cheaper devices like iPads and drawing tablets to do more with a smaller investment.
A. While some artists can use a tablet for light graphic design, most designers find that it’s easier to navigate the necessary programs, file types and hardware demands of a career in graphic design with a laptop.
A. While it certainly isn’t a rule, most gaming laptops offer powerful performance and graphics cards that also work well for graphic design. Since PC games require a high level of performance to be able to run, most graphic design programs also run on these computers — though it’s still worth double-checking what the system requirements are for the software you hope to use.
Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display
What you need to know: This powerful laptop from Apple offers an impressive 8-core processor for powerful performance and Apple’s unparalleled Retina display.
What you’ll love: Graphic designers appreciate Apple laptops for their colorful, engaging Retina displays, as well as the option to choose between 512 gigabytes or 1 terabyte of storage. This model is available in space gray or silver.
What you should consider: Apple’s laptops can’t run as many games as some Windows laptops can.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Apple 13-Inch MacBook Air with Retina Display
What you need to know: Slightly cheaper and offering more battery life than its sibling the MacBook Pro, the affordable MacBook Air still offers fairly impressive performance and storage options.
What you’ll love: The MacBook Air offers a great mid-tier laptop option for graphic designers, and still features 256GB or 512GB storage configurations, with the acclaimed Retina display. This model is available in space gray, rose gold or silver.
What you should consider: The performance in Apple’s MacBook Air isn’t as powerful as that of MacBook Pro.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Acer Nitro 5 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop with Intel Core i5
What you need to know: If you’re hoping to use your laptop for more than just graphic design, this powerful gaming laptop offers an impressive price for the graphics card and other hardware it boasts, despite being pretty light on storage.
What you’ll love: This model’s display is larger than most laptops, which is useful for many graphic designers, and its colors are fairly true to form. The Intel Core i5 processor in this laptop also offers powerful performance alongside 8GB of DDR4 RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics card.
What you should consider: This laptop doesn’t have very much storage out of the box, though it can be upgraded with more.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.